Interview :: Purity Ring’s Corin Roddick – ‘Another Eternity’
May 5th 2015
In July, icy electronic duo Purity Ring will be coming to our shores to play Splendour in the Grass. Ahead of their return to Australia, Scott Wallace had a chat with the man-behind-the-boards Corin Roddick about how their music has changed, their brand new interactive live show and the influence of the Canadian wilderness.
Scott: Your second album Another Eternity just came out. How did the experience recording the second album differ compared to recording your first album Shrines?
Corin: It was a very different experience than recording the first album. I think the main difference was that the songwriting was a lot more collaborative between Megan [Purity Ring singer and lyricist Megan James] and I; we had a lot more feedback and we shared a lot more ideas and worked on things together, whereas previously our workflow was very separated. I would work on a bunch of music and put some tracks together and then send them to Megan ‘cause she was living in a different city, and then she would come up with some ideas and then we would basically just record the song after we had written our parts separately. But the new album, we worked mostly in the same room, which I think really changed it up and allowed us to explore some new creative ideas.
When Purity Ring first appeared, material slowly trickled out over two years or so. Approaching the second album, was it a matter of sitting down and saying, “Let’s record an album…”?
I guess in the early days, we worked on quite a few songs and we would just put a song out after we completed it. At that time I think we weren’t really planning an album yet, we were just in the early stages of trying to establish what our sound was and figuring out what we were doing. Then later on, as we started to write more songs, it became really apparent that they all kind of fit together in an album-y way. I think that you have more freedom to do that kind of thing with your first album – after that we were signed to a label we were kind of put into this album mentality. So we just disappeared for a year or so and didn’t play any shows and just spent the whole time making the second album.
Your second album has a bigger, bolder dance sound, especially on tracks like ‘Flood on the Floor’ and ‘Sea Castle.’ Was that change in sound influenced by playing to bigger crowds?
I don’t think so. I don’t think the live show or the audiences that we play to really influence our songwriting at all… When we’re in the studio, when we’re writing, we just want to create the music that we’re most excited about in that moment and that we think is the best that it can be. I think that when you start to consider too many outside factors like “oh, this will go over really well at a festival” or “this song will work really well on radio,” then you start to get too locked into that sort of outline for it and you might end up compromising the creativity of it. So, we try not to worry about that stuff at all and focus on the songwriting.
When it comes time to figure out how to play the songs live, when we’re putting the set together, that’s when maybe we’ll make some changes to it or tailor things to be more appropriate for a live set.
What bands and artists are the main influences for your sound?
That’s not really a super easy question for me to answer. I try not to be too conscious of that kind of thing in the first place. I feel like when I’m writing music, if I’m thinking of another song or referencing an artist as I’m trying to write something, it discourages me to keep working on it if I think it sounds like something else. Because then maybe you’re worried about that and you try to make it different, and then it’s not what it could have been.
My approach is that when I’m working on something, I just try to make something that doesn’t really remind me of anything. I’m sure there’s always subconscious influences that will affect everything we do, but I try to keep it in the subconscious and keep it out of my frame of mind; then it’s easier to let things flow naturally without too much interference. But that being said, there’s a lot of artists that I enjoy and that I have loved over the years and I’m sure some things about everything that I love or everything that I dislike somehow influences everything that I make.
Looking at the Canadian music scene as an outsider, the country seems to have a certain mystique. Acts like you guys or Crystal Castles have a sort of cold, icy sound. Do you think that there’s a musical identity that comes with where you’re from?
I think an iciness or a coldness could definitely be a characteristic of a lot of Canadian music, and that’s obviously due to the landscape – the long frozen winters. There’s so many different types of music that come out of Canada so it’s kind of difficult to say if there’s a direct similarity between all of it. I think that the long winters definitely encourage a lot of creativity… Everything’s really clean and beautiful outside but you don’t really wanna be out there ‘cause it’s so cold so you just wanna look at it then go back inside and make something. So it’s definitely good for that.
You’re coming to Australia for the second time in July. Do you think that there are any differences between Australian crowds and the rest of the world?
Yeah, I remember the Australian crowds being very excited and rowdy and really into the songs. Australian crowds seem to be really expressive, which is a nice change from places where people are more reserved and you can’t really tell if they’re enjoying themselves or not. In Australia, if people are into it, they’re not afraid to show it. There’s less self-consciousness.
On the subject of your live show, I read that Megan designs and sews all the clothes that you wear on stage. What else can we expect from the live show?
That’s 100% true. She designs most of our clothes; everything we wear in photoshoots or music videos and then also the things that we wear for the live show. That’s her special talent.
We’ve spent the last three or four months putting together a new show, which is very different than what we had last time we came to Australia. It consists of a whole kind of different visual experience, something that I think is pretty unique that hasn’t really been in the context of a musical performance before. We’ve put a lot of work into making it all interactive – so everything’s connected with the music and things are all feeding off of each other – so things connect to Megan’s voice or they connect to what I’m doing. It’s a new thing for us and we’re still kind of working on it, because there isn’t really any guide book or how-to for it. It’s been challenging, but we’ve just played a few shows with the new setup and I think that by the time Australia comes around we’re gonna have things properly worked out and it’s gonna be really good.
You’re currently on tour in the UK. Are you heading anywhere you haven’t been before?
I think when we come to Australia we might do a few cities that we haven’t done before. Hopefully… I think it’s in the works, but we’re hopefully gonna do Perth, and is it… Adelaide, is that how you say it? We weren’t able to play those places last time, so I’m hoping to do that this time. It’s always nice to go to a new city that you haven’t been to before.
What’s next after the tour? Anything in the works?
We’ve got a lot of things in the works. We’re working on a few music videos. We’re always trying to improve the live show. We’ve kept writing as well; I think we have some new songs in the works. I don’t know when anything is really gonna be released or anything like that, but we’re trying to stay creative so that when the time comes we’ll hopefully have a lot of new material, so we don’t have to wait so long or feel pressured to come up with new things after too much time has gone by.
‘Another Eternity’ by Purity Ring is out now through 4AD / Remote Control.
WHAT :: Purity Ring (ALL AGES Splendour sideshow)
WHERE :: The Metro Theatre
WHEN :: Monday, July 27
HOW MUCH :: $55 + BF here
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